Gilet Jaunes protesting in Bayonne, France

“If you bring that tax back, petrol prices will go up and you’re taxing people who need their cars. It’s that tax that made us turn up at the roundabouts and we’ll be back there again”: This was a Gilet Jaune’s angry response to reports that the “taxe carbone”, an environmental tax on fossil fuel use that sparked the Gilet Jaunes protests (and subsequently frozen by the government) might be about to make a comeback.

France’s experience should give pause for thought. Could a rethink be needed on how fiscal policy is used to support green aims? …


‘Climate action was just too little and too slow for Hulot’: What was behind his shock resignation?

This is an edited version of an article first published in Business Green on 30 August 2018.

“We’re witnessing the gestation of a long-announced tragedy with indifference: the world is now like an oven, its natural resources are running out, biodiversity is in decline… and still the issue is relegated to one of our last priorities… We’re taking small steps — and France is doing a lot more than other countries — but are these steps enough? The answer has to be no.”…


The appointment of the famed ecologist has been welcomed by green businesses, but as Alasdair MacEwen explains, he faces significant challenges as he enters the French cabinet

France’s newly appointed ‘Minister for Ecological Transition and Solidarity’ says his ambition for the world is “restoring the true meaning of progress for human kind”. Nicolas Hulot, the most famous and well-liked ecologist in France, now has the portfolio previously occupied by Ségolène Royal, and will be number three in President Emmanuel Macron’s new cabinet. So who is Nicolas Hulot, what does the appointment really mean for France and for green investors?

A…


The European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier stated last week that “The first condition [of the Article 50 negotiation] is the unity of the 27, which goes hand in hand with transparency and public debate.” Barnier’s declaration isn’t just posturing, nor is it solely an attempt to pressure the UK into revealing more during the talks. It is also about Brussels limiting its own obvious weaknesses. EU institutions have long been known to be “leaky”, so it makes sense to compensate by playing on future Brussels openness. Aiming for transparency also emphasises how much the Commission needs to keep its…


In December Francois Fillon was the firm favourite to become France’s next president. Incumbent Francois Hollande had wisely pulled out of attempting a second mandate, and Emmanuel Macron, with his newly formed party ‘En Marche’ looked improbable as a prospect to face Marine le Pen in a second-round showdown. Today, former Socialist Economy minister Macron is topping first-round polls, beating Le Pen in surveys for the runoff and Fillon’s tarnished crusade looks over. …

Alasdair MacEwen

Director, Culmer Raphael

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